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 Eclipse Viewing Advice for Families and Educators

On Monday, Aug. 21, America will experience a rare solar eclipse. While some parts of the country will experience a total solar eclipse, San Diego County residents will experience a partial eclipse visible from 9:07 until 11:45 a.m. The eclipse will reach its maximum point of visibility in San Diego at 10:23 a.m.

Eclipses—even partial eclipses—can be awe-inspiring and present an excellent opportunity for teachers to engage their students in science. Following are educational resources and ideas for educators.

Important Safety Information

The only safe way to look at a partial solar eclipse is through special glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. You cannot safely view the eclipse through your phone’s camera, binoculars, or other devices without a special ISO-certified filter (which is not the same as an Instagram filter). Staring at even a sliver of the sun without the right protection can cause permanent eye damage.

If your school is in session during this phenomena, steps should be taken to educate staff, students, and parents on the potential dangers and on actions the school will take to protect students. Precautions should be taken to ensure students are supervised during eclipse viewing activities in a manner that will prevent injuries. Schools are also advised to consider the risk posed by surreptitious viewing by students and to take appropriate preventative precautions.

If you plan to view the eclipse at school, please be sure to provide designated solar eclipse glasses. It is also important to make sure the viewing glasses are made by an approved company. See an American Astronomical Society-approved list of viewing glasses.

According to NASA, an alternate method for safe viewing is pinhole projection. One way to do this is to cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse— you'll see the ground dappled with crescent suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.

For additional safety information, view this NASA web page.

General Information About the Eclipse

Educational Links and Materials


Information for this article adapted from NASA, the American Astronomical Society, Alameda Unified School District, and the Sonoma County Office of Education.